This past weekend was a bizarre one. If anyone had predicted the outcome of the last weekend football matches then he must have divine powers or be a grand cousin of the famous world cup octopus. These are the unusuals
1. Mikel Finally Scores
Prior to Arsenal’s match, my excitement knew no bound as my Nigerian brother scored his first ever English Premier League goal for Chelsea. In as much as I bad-belled Chelsea to lose points to Fulham, I felt relief as Mikel broke that unfortunate jinx. 185 matches without a goal is weird, even Tim Howard has scored more than Mikel. On the brighter side, Mikel has scored more goals than Eto, Torres, and Ba.
2. Balotelli Misses a Penalty
Mario Balotelli missed a penalty for the first time in his career as AC Milan slumped to a 2-1 defeat at home to Serie A joint leaders Napoli on Sunday. Balotelli, who had converted all 21 of his previous penalties in official matches, watched his run come to an end when Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina dived low to his right to keep out his effort just after the hour. In a typically eventful performance, ‘Supermario’ was also booked, hit the crossbar, had another penalty appeal turned down and brought the game to life with a brilliant stoppage time goal. He was then sent off after receiving a second booking for arguing with the ref after the final whistle.
3. Barcelona out-possessed, Barcelona sauntered to what appeared to be a regulation 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night, but below the surface, something remarkable was occurring. For the first time in 317 competitive games Barcelona finished the game having had less possession than their opponents. Ever since a 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in May 2008, the master practitioners of tiki-taka had greedily hogged the ball like the best kid in the school playground. The Catalans finished with 46% ball possession.
4. Arsenal scoring like Stoke city and Stoke playing like Arsenal. Arsenal on Sunday scored 3 goals from set pieces to defeat Stoke 3-1 at the Emirates. prior to this match, all of Arsenal’s goals this season had com from open play. On the other hand, Stoke decided to play football on the ground unlike the Rugby FC method. they evn kept possession in the second half. Mark Hughes is really changing them.
5. Others The 4-1 drubbing of RVP-less Manchester United by their assumed noisy neighbors and the home loss by Liverpool made my weekend a memorable one. Are united now a one-man team or has Webb’s contract expired? Is Coutinho key to Liverpool? Or are they making provisions for the return of Suarez? Manchester United will clash again with Liverpool in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. Whosoever loseth will gnash his teeth.
Finally, the Premier League have witnessed its first sack of the season. Who would have bet that Paulo Di Canio would be the first manager to lose his job. Sunderland parted way with the hyperactive coach. I would miss his antics on the sidelines. I hear Di Matteo is up for the job. He has been jobless since.
What a weekend. Capital One Cup on my mind.